tv American Politics CSPAN December 20, 2009 9:30pm-11:00pm EST
independence of we have the right framework. >> today the u.k. today the u.k. payments council is made to determine the future of using checks. and it's anticipated t especially those without access to the internet are continuing to use checks. and to ensure that people and small businesses can continue to use this form of payment? >> i think the honorable member makes a significant point and this is particularly a point in relation to older people. and the provision in the equality bill which ensures that public authorities must take into account the interests of older people. they must not take steps which discriminate against older people, that is something which
they will have to take into account when they're making these changes. we need to look to the future but make sure that older people don't suffer as a result. >> will my right honorable friend join me in the local transport guide given the powers forces locally elected transport authorities to bring in quality contracts with the power to determine local bus routes, frequencies and fares? will she agree with me that any proposal to revoke these powers will make the right and be completely contrary to the local democratic accountability? >> i think these quality contracts have been an important step forward in transport and it would be folly for the local transport act powers to be revoked which is one of the things that the party opposite is threatening. it shouldn't happen. >> nigel evans. >> we have an administration run
by tweedle d and tweedle dumb. if the prime minister really does want to give the people of this country a great new year cheer, that he will announce a general election sooner rather than later? >> i don't think that turkey is going to fly. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i frequently receive representations from small businesses in my constituency about the costs of government regulation. would my right honorable friend agree with me that in these difficult times it is essential for the government to reduce the burden of regulation. and cano she tell me what the government is doing about it? >> well, we're making sure that we help government business both -- sorry. we're making sure that the government helps business both big and small. and one of the things that we've done is help businesses defer their tax under the time to pay
scheme. and i think the most important thing that's been announced for small business over the last weeks was the chancellor's announcement in the prebudget report that the time to pay scheme is going to be continued. we want to do everything we can to help small businesses. and one of the things that we won't be doing is abolishin visit c-span.org to find a video archive of past prime minister's questions of links to the house of commons and prime ministers websites. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> tomorrow on "washington journal," steve forbes talks
about his new boat and then bruce freed talks about how much corporation spent on politics. live but seven of the a.m. -- live at 7:00 a.m. eastern. the senate continued work on the health care bill, and here is how you can follow the debate. watch live gavel-to-gavel, unedited, and commercial free on c-span 2. listen to the highlights on c- span radio, and review the debate at the health care ohub. and the latest from the reports and -- reporters and editors from the roll call group, and now iphone app users can
listen and comment using vanilla iphone -- using the iphone app. >> on christmas day, the legacy of apollo 11, a discussion of the role of muslim americans and the world, and later a former cia intelligence officer on strategy in afghanistan, and starting at 8:00 a.m. eastern, remember the lives of william buckley, jr., and ted kennedy. >> c-span's book, "abraham lincoln," a perfect gift for the history buff in your life. it is a unique perspective from 56 scholars, journalists, and writers.
in hardcover at your favorite bookseller, and now in digital audio to listen to any time, available where audio downloads are sold. learn more c-span.org/lincoln book. >> there's just a month left to enter the student camera contest theory of $50,000 in prizes, top prize is $5,000. just create a video on one of the country prospered restraints or challenges. it will show -- create a video on one of the country's strength or challenges. now a discussion on the impact of new technologies on politics and society in cuba. will your about the recent arrest of an american contractor in cuba region we will hear about the recent arrest of an american contractor in cuba for allegedly handing out cell phones and other equipment to
dissident groups. >> good morning, everybody, and welcome. we are happy to have you with us today for this discussion on cuba and new technologies. i am the senior associate and director of our caribbean program, and for me, this is been a particularly interesting meeting to organize and topics to examine. cuba has experienced a technology change and change in u.s. policy to communications. this is a joint venture, and will spend the next 90 minutes examining the impact on cuban policies on society as well as
how these trends are likely to evolves. i want to begin with several program notes. the first is yesterday evening i received a phone call from the representative from the u.s. state department who led plan to be with us today, and he unfortunately have a last minute conflict and was unable to attend, so i regret this. we are nevertheless -- nevertheless, the show will go on, and we look forward to involving the state department in these discussions at a future time. secondly, i want to offer a warm welcome to our c-span audience. it has been awhile since c-span has been at the dialogue, and i guess it took a combination of cuba and the internet to actually make this discussion worthy of a wider broadcast, so i hope you can be on your best behavior today, and if you really enjoy this panel, you will be allowed to watch of several times over the weekend from the comfort of your home, and third, i want to introduce my friend and our co convene
their -- co--convener. i would like to have you say a few words. >> i am very happy to be here. the institute has been cosponsoring these events for a few years. i am going to be working when then in -- with dan in new thousand 10, so how will see a lot more of you. the key research institutes collects knowledge about cuba and cuban-americans, so it is of particular interest to us to co- sponsor these events. we open this forum to of voices and opinions about cuba including our colleagues from cuba, which we tried to invite as much as we can given all the difficulties, and i am a cuban- american, and i am passionate
about cuba, and i have followed cuban affairs since i was a child, and the live in washington for many years, so the combination makes a very blessed for me to come here often. when i met to plan the next few meetings, he picked the new technology is the first one, and sure enough, has enough time went by it became a more interesting topic, so welcome, and i hope i will be seeing a lot more euan the next year, and will turn it over to dan so he can introduced the speakers, because i know you enviro interested in hearing what they have to say. >> thank you -- you and i are interested in hearing what they have to say. crisscrosses very much. technological and dances are coming to cuba -- thank you very
much. technical advances are coming to cuba. it is one area where people have the least access, yet virtually everyone in cuba is aware of its potential power, and this has created a very dynamic environment in which the study of how technology is impacting region the cuban government has exhibited a shrewd use of internet. many of you may recall that fidel castro retired as president in 2008, but you may not remember the manner he did it, which was proposed in his letter of resignation online, on grounds of's online website at 2:00 in the morning, thereby having the -- grandma's online website a 2:00 in the morning, thereby having correspondence calling in the middle of the night to say there is a breaking
story there. the cuban government has been very waffle over its online images region waffle over its online images -- has been watchful of its online images. the world has been onslaught to viral videos, any number of which can be viewed on youtube, including an outburst by castro as a major summit in argentina when he starred with reporters. there is a well-known case last year when a young cuban students confronted riccardo at a town hall meeting at the university, a computer science university, where the student voice to complain about access to the internet, and of course you have a growing debate within the cuban government, and that has been fueled by technology. one notable example was in 2007
when an e-mail the day broke out between artists and intellectuals within cuba -- an e-mail debate broke out between artists and intellectuals within cuba, and the man who had been associated with oppression earlier in his career of being given an actual honor on television. there was an e-mail they k-fed broke out between cuba and -- debate that broke out between cuba and intellectuals. and then you have sohn says, virtually an unknown figures years ago, -- sanchez, virtually an unknown figure years ago. her beloved hits millions of hits every month. -- her blog its millions of hits every month. she is not allowed to leave the country. the united states has changed its telecom policies, and
earlier this month there was the arrest of a usa contractor for the stripping electronics equipment in cuba, which has -- for selling electronics agreement in cuba. we're fortunate to have experts to try to navigate through this complicated maze with us and in provide insight on how technological change is impacting cuba. are for speaker is a professor on blackened cuban studies and the author of the handbook. he has visited the island many times and more recently he has turned his attention to blogs, including he has done several interviews on the island with sanchez and just recently launched his own blog, el yuma, which went live months
ago and faces -- address issues facing island. he will be followed by carlos carlos is the coordinator for journalists. he is originally from buenos raares, and he went on to work r "playboy in" magazine terry and he had a distinguished career in journalism. in recent years he has been working on issues, and this fall, he wrote an important report looking at the impact of the internet on cuba. i may add a few comments, and we will open up to more discussion. without further ado, i will turn it over to said. >> thank you for your invitation. i am excited to be here, and you're staring directly into the crystal ball, and this has only been a very interesting three or four months.
[speaks spanish] i learned that word from you. we should not be too surprised that cuba gets the attention of c-span. the cuban flag is not there once or twice but there are actually three, so they must of hired a cuban painter to paint that. >> we actually did. it is the wife of the president. >> there you go. she's not give a couple of extra patriotic symbols -- she's not in a couple of extra patriotic symbols -- she snuck in a couple of extra patriotic symbols. i am going to play devil's advocate, but the problem is you will have to decide who the devils and angels are. weekend -- let me begin with a few quotes.
the first is from sanchez herself on a similar gathering in cuba. she had to infiltrate in a blond wig, and she put on hoes and makeup for the first time in a few years to attend, and this is what she said when she stood up and spoke. "what relationship exists between the trumpeted van with and why we cuban citizens cannot -- bandwidths and why we cuban citizens cannot access the internet when mass -- en masse? why is there stigmatization of people because they think differently? this is her provocative question
in that environment. now i am going to quote one of the experts in the united states who has studied for a long time the internet and information technology in cuba. his name is nelson fell dense -- valdez. he has produced quite a bit of papers. this is from a paper he produced published -- produced for the ford foundation in 2001, and he has a different understanding on explaining the restrictions on access in cuba. "poverty and the access of sufficient technical infrastructure hinder connectivity and use. cuba's limited access has to be understood in that context. moreover, u.s. policy has sought to hinder cuba's progress in that arena. we have noted the united states limits cuba's access to e-mail
before 1994. thereafter, the u.s. government permitted inefficient connectivity but always stressed the necessity of using e-mail and internet in order to subvert the cuban regime. those critical of the cuban internet situation seldom take these conditions into account." last thing i will read to you before i share my comments is a statement that was written by of lage-- a blogger named orlando. he became fairly well known recently when he was rounded up along with sanchez by the police and route to a march 4 -- en route to a march for peace. this was in the time of the serious issue of the terms all
dedicated to cuba and written by cubans who live in cuba today. at the beginning of his very interesting and educational peace on the blogosphere, he says this, "on the islands the blogosphere is an incident present an outside invisible. though it causes controversy worldwide, cuban bloggers are virtually unknown here. with internet access restricted to a few, the internet functions as a sort of guerrilla underground. the work as independent agents whose existence heralds a reactivation that will modulates the revolutions realpolitik, or is that raul politik?"
check out his blog. one is photography, and the other is what is going on on the ground in cuba. essentially, what i have laid out for you are a couple of different models for you to understand the internet and cuba. the first model you could say is the blogosphere, for you: the democratization model. in other words, -- or in other words you could collin the democratization model. now it is a kind of roman senate. the difference between them is they say the blogostroika is a grass-roots phenomenon not
waiting for the government's permission to take place. whereas another model for understanding the internet would be in -- this will be from the cuban government's perspective, and nelson fell thus represents their perspective in terms of how they see it -- nelson weill says represents their perspectives in terms of how they see it -- destabilization. in this case, it is not the roman senate, but the trojan horse is a better way to understand the internet, or explain the cuban government's reticence to open the internet because it feels it is under threat. in this sense, cuba is not best seen as a communist dictatorship, but as a developing country under threat by the world's largest military
economic power and is very hesitant to open up because the stated policy of its neighbors is regime change -- weather is regime change in with the states or with the carrots -- with a stick or with a carrot, it is a regime change, and that is how they would understand and explain their reticence. it would also understand have technological, and for structural, economic problems, which anyone can deny, that prevent them from providing access, and finally, they would say they have a different kind of system, and they would use this explanation for many things to explain cuban society. they would save all social priorities or economic priorities are not for household -- they would say that all social priorities or account for our fees are not for household use for all. but it's probably not possible in the near term.
what is important is to prioritize internet use for development, education, science, medical use, and therefore, to provide it to institutions. the government democratization side would say that as an excuse for control, so this is the debate. i would say -- i would give you three other metaphors. one other metaphor is the internet as -- not the roman senate or the trojan horse but asian miracle. as economic development. the cuban government has taken advantage of a number of ways to use the internet for e- commerce, the software industry -- those are some ways we could think about it. i would say to other ways we could think about it -- two other with a good thing about it -- one as a parisian salons.
it is the way for the intellectual world, the artistic world to exchange ideas, share their work, and this is partly what led to this internet debate. they call it the war of the e- mails. this debate took place over e- mail among cuban intellectuals in january 2007, which was very important, and which is part of the prehistory, the frustration that gave birth to sanchez [pause] blog -- sanchez's blog. she felt frustrated, shut out, without a voice. she started her blog two months later. finally, the internet can be used and has been used, and is used right now as a patriotic stillborn. in response to sanchez's blog --
as a patriotic stillborn -- billboard. in response to sanchez's blog, the cuban government has exploded into the blogosphere. the ones that are legitimate, the people inspired by her end those reacting against her. if you go online, there is a burgeoning blogosphere. there are two that are quite interesting. one is called -- one is a reaction to him. i am the one from your generation, but i do not agree
with what they're saying. i believe in socialism. her website and the traditional hosting site -- the cuban government has a new hosting site. they are not dumb. there is another fascinating sight called bloggerscuba. this one i have not made the evaluation on. they are about a year or year- and-a-half old. it got together about 12 or 15 independent loggers region blogger and richard independent -- independent bloggers.
i am trying to figure out how independent is. is she independent? is she supported by the ceo of -- cia? if she truly independent? questions will be raised about this in a politicized context, so let me now, after setting of this general framework -- we are running out of time. let me extend that model a little bit on both sides, and then i will talk a little bit about history, and then i will move into looking in some of the blogosphere in cuba in detail. next, let's talk about those two ideas. on the democratization side, we could say that what are the
obstacles to internet expansion in cuba? the obstacles if you believe in that model would be political and ideological, bureaucratic, and the obstacle is mainly an internal obstacles. it is the cuban government. that is the problem, and it is ideological and your credit restrictions. on the other side, of the obstacles would be economic, infrastructural, geopolitical, and there would be external. the cuban government would argue -- this is a challenge for us, so she and them to -- socio- economic flee, but also, history will show -- this is a challenge for us socioeconomically, but also, history will show that by
connections and interactions were there. in 1988, that was when cuba finally started to become connected outside of that context. and over the next few years, they made a number of negotiations, first with canada, then with the united states on and off, and this was laid out in a number of publications, again sketching this history, but essentially, there are two types of negotiations. one was with the canadian government, and through canada, and this was set up in the early 1990's, 1991, 1992, and it allowed every night for all of the emails in cuba to be sent over the telephone lines from canada beginning at 11:00 at night until all of them went through, into the morning, and
that went on for years, but canada was paying for it. the cubans in their negotiations said they really could not foot the bill for that, in canada did, but that ran out partly because canada stopped paying for it -- and canada did. cuba ended up getting connected through other means, through satellite means, to the internet around the world. the other negotiations -- one of the things about the canadian initiations that more important is that they were generally not politicized. questions about who has access and questions about how the information would be used where not raised by the canadians, and therefore, hard-liners in cuba did not raise security concerns. internet connections could be used to destabilize cuba.
if the outsiders ask the questions, at least the hard- liners inside of cuba would raise the security concerns, and they would lose the bureaucratic debates. with the united states, and we have seen this over the past few years, but back in the early 1990's, there were negotiations to try to get cuba hooked up into the world wide web, right, to have them access and get the ability to connect, and this was successful. the problem has been in cuba's reticence to connect to the fiber-optic cable that runs offshore of cuba, but some sectors of the united states' ire to keep them from becoming connected, and so that dance continues now with the obama
administration reaching out, trying to allow that to happen, but the cuban government still been reticent, and also saying, "hey, we have another option, and that is venezuela," and they kept saying 2010, 2010, 2010. that has been the argument or the x q's up until now. one thing i will say in the last few minutes is just to sketch of the history. -- that has been at the argument or the excuse up until now. there is actually a whole world connected to that, so first, let me talk about history, and then i will talk about projects. in my analysis of her bkloglog,u
can break it up into six stages, and we can come back to it if you're interested. exorcisms, personal exorcisms you could call it, what she calls it. six out -- six months later, october 2007. then there was international recognition from about october through march, and march is when the cuban government started to clamp down and blocker site from access within cuba. -- and block her site. the next stage, you had fidel castro, without mentioning her name, criticized for in a book about bolivia. that was the next few months, from march to august 2008. then, there are two stages that are quite interesting. one is called from cyberspace to public space, at least i call it that, and that started with her and her crew, her friends, a
group of bloggers protesting a group of people, and this was an august of 2008, and this was a public protest. also, they camped out of the police headquarters where he was being held, and then he was released, and this began a series over the next six months of increasingly public activities that were leaving, strictly defined, the blogosphere and entering the public sphere, and then, something going on from december of last year, so this is about one year old, and i would call this a movement from individual catharsis to group solidarity, and the last thing i will say is just to mention a little bit about some of the details of this group solidarity.
to her credit, sanchez uses her own popularity to spread the power, effectiveness, of the blogosphere and empower other people in cuba to start their own blogs, and she has done that through a number of platforms, and this has gone to a series, and i would just named them. [speaking spanish] and finally -- [speaking spanish] these have evolved over time, one evolving into another. hers started with an online magazine, and that lasted for about four years, from 2004 to about 2006, prior to her blog,
and then, they had something that lasted from 2007 to 2009, and at the beginning of 2009, that was transformed again. if you go to the website, no "www," that is a platform that i think has 16 different blogs, including hers, her husband's, some of the people i have mentioned already. there is also what they call what is basically a biweekly, it twice a week, workshop -- biweekly, twice a week workshop, where people can learn about blogging and how to start their own blogs.
they have at different times tried to restrict these meetings, but they continue. i think they are every tuesday and every friday. and then, finally, there is a project that the first round of it took place, and it was basically an awards rounds, and it is called "a virtual island," and this is basically a competition with various categories to basically reward and recognize some of the better blogs that are done from cuba, so i will leave it there and look forward to your questions. >> thank you. that is really an excellent and fascinating, i think, overview. some of us may be familiar with pieces of it, but i do not think i obscene it laid out, the interconnections, posed that way. -- i do not think i have seen it laid out. carlos, we will turn it over to
you. >> thanks very much, and, uva. the committee to protect journalists, we do research on the conditions. i am the coordinator of the americas program. i am tasked with overseeing the violations on the island, and we have recently launched a report in the fall that looks into this phenomenon of the blogosphere and the huge obstacles they face while doing their jobs. i am going to start by making a short introduction of the conditions in cuba.
as you may know, the cuban constitution grants the communist party the right to control the press. it recognizes press freedom only in accordance to the goals of the socialist society. the state owns and controls all media outlets. cuba's closed system does not allow any kind of independent reporting and is a very highly repressive and, in fact, cuba, according to a research group, ranks among the top jailers of journalists. a recent report on journalists around the world found cuba the
third largest jailer of journalists in the world after china and iran. there are currently 22 journalists in jail in cuba solely for exercising their rights express freedom. most of them, 20 of them, were arrested during the massive crackdown against the dissidents of the independent press in march 2003. more than six years ago, while the attention of the world was focused on the u.s.-led invasion to iraq, fidel castro launched a massive crackdown on dissidents. 75 of them were detained. summarily tried. given lengthy prison sentences. among them, there were 29
journalists. they were given prison terms ranging from 14 years them 27 years, and most of them are still jailed and under inhumane conditions. nothing, in fact, has really changed in terms of press freedom, conditions, since raul castro took over. although there has not been a widespread crackdown, there is low intensity of oppression against dissidents, journalists, and the community of bloggers, which is something in this highly oppressive environment is something that really encouraged
us to see in the last two years that this vibrant community of bloggers had prevailed over the regime internet restrictions and been able to assimilate news and views on line. the loggers, mainly -- the bloggers, mainly young adults of various professions, offer a glimmer of hope for the rebirth of independent ideas in cuba's close system. our research for the report identified at least 25 independent, journalistic, and regularly updated blogs produced by cuban writers.
as many as 75 other independent blogs are maintained also. although they are mainly focused on personal or family issues rather than be reportorial or commentary. in addition, as ted mentioned, close to to launch officially approved blogs -- close to 200 officially approved blogs, and this is according to the official web site of the cuban journalists union. the emergence of this blogging community can be traced back to april 2007, when the first few belongs -- blogs were written. most independent journalists and free press advocates point to
sanchez as the pioneer of the border community -- blogger community. hers was the first to be written under her own byline, -- itbiline. -- her biline. citizen journalists can offer opinions that have no room in the cuban media. bloggers are largely based in havana, where computers and internet are easier to access them on the rest of the island. most of the bloggers are in their twenties, thirties,
lawyers, musicians, artists, and others. our analysis of the more than 20 journalistic blogs find that the critically examine issues that cubans face daily, like food shortages, housing problems, education, health care, and also restrictions to internet access. there are also some blogs that chronicle sports and arts. there are a handful that right political commentary. as i said, the bloggers face
severe legal and economic limitations. there is the office of statistics, and they say that 30% -- 13%, sorry. 13% of the cuban population has access to the internet, although independent journalists say that this figure is considerably inflated. even judging by the official numbers, cuba has, indeed, the lowest rate of internet access in the americas. ownership of personal computers itself was restricted until 2008, when president raul castro
undertook serious economic reforms. in may, 2008, the government authorized consumers sales of personal computers, at cell phones, although -- previously cuban's barred from purchasing those. many people on the island have told us about -- previously cubans were barred from producing those. for the vast majority of cubans, internet access but is still restricted. the government-owned internet service provider must approve all connections. accessing the web through the state internet service provider also requires a password.
that is issued by the government. and like most commodities in cuba, you know, passwords can be obtained on the black war -- black market at a steep price. so largely and in practice, those who have access to the internet in cuba are foreigners, intellectuals with connections, links to the government. high-ranking officials, as well as doctors, certain doctors and hospitals, academics at universities, and government-and compounds. how do the bloggers access the
internet then? they go online at sadr cafés -- cyber cafes and universities. hotels became another option in 2000 age when the government lifted regulations that forbade its ordinary citizens from entering tourist venues. but even at these places, cuban's,s, bloggers, face hardship. sending emails, for example, can take from half an hour to one hour, and the cost, it is very costly, and the internet at hotels and at cyber cafes, it
costs around 160 paces -- pesos, which is about $6, almost one- third of a cuban monthly salary. bloggers say the internet is a little better. they can access a cluster of cuban websites. the dutch embassy and another offer a space where bloggers can go online, but there are some bloggers that shy away from going to embassies because they
think that's they may be perceived as members of the political opposition. the cuban government has put in place a very regressive regulatory framework, and it has explicit censorship rules described in a decree in 1996. online information is restricted also through a commission charged with regulating information that comes from worldwide information webb's and insuring cybersecurity and defense. -- webs and ensurimng
cybersecurity and defense. internet service providers are obligated to adopt necessary measures to impede access to sites with information that is contrary to ethics and good customs, as well as the use of publications that affect the integrity and security of the state. but despite all of these limitations, the blog birds still find ways to upload their stories, their posts. the right at home on personal computers -- write at home. some of those computers are cobbled together with black
market parts. hotels or diplomatic many years. some say that they are able to sporadically post directly to their blogs, but, in fact, most of them email their posts to friends outside of cuba who loathed them on to the perspective website. as cubans have restricted limited access, most of their posts, most of what the blockers right is read outside of cuba -- most of what the bloggers write is read outside of cuba.
there is a tremendous impact abroad. particularly with sanchez and the blogger community, but they also want to make cubans aware with what they are doing, so in order to assimilate what they produce, -- >> one of those strategies here. >> exactly. what they do is save their posts to cd's or flash drives, and they distribute them to independent libraries or greece. they also print, photocopy, and bring their posts to impromptu publications, which according to some bloggers are passed hand- to-hand.
finally, it is clear that the emergence of this a vibrant blogger community is evidence of a generational shift. even a country as isolated as cuba has been slowly been moving into the 21st century. >> great. thank you very much, carlos, are those comments. we will let uva make a comment. >> thank you. i want to add some comments. email. most cubans do that access to email and the internet, and that has resulted in a lot between cuban's and cuban americans, and there is been a lot of reunification of families. -- between cubans and cuban
americans. more than 100 emails of family, friends, colleagues, and there is an interchange of information, of text, of photos, some trivial, like "happy birthday" or "happy mother's day," and others with more interesting content, but it has helped unite families inside and abroad. something we all take for granted, but with the isolation of cuba, that has an effect, and the other thing is youtube. cell phones and different cameras. in the last year alone, i can think about four or five postings on the internet of things happening in cuba, a discussion of a student -- i do
not know how many of you saw that. st. guys saying there was hunker in cuba, and recently, just a couple of weeks ago, complaining about the quality of the food. complaining about how can you go to school with the kind of food they were giving, and it is not only that it is posted in a lot of people can see. it is that somebody is really out there filming it and putting it on youtube some way, so i think that also shows -- a
strong complaint about the kind of food they weren't kidding. you can see other people taking pictures. it is not whoever posted it. there was more than one taking photographs or film indies. so i think these are two other elements, technologies. and even television. for example, in havana, people were able to share a moment that was of music, of peace, of reconciliation, so all of that, the bloggers, of course, at the youtube.com emails, they have
come a long way. i do not know, communication, changes, getting very slowly into the 21st century. thank you. >> thank you. just as a final comment before we open it up to questions, it strikes me that the united states is clearly trying to take this change in the technological landscape into account and making policies. it is still not clear that we have the right mix. on the one hand, just earlier this year, president obama authorized a number of changes in u.s. policy with telecommunications, including allowing providers to antique -- enter into agreements with fiberoptics, a link with cuba and united states, a roaming service agreement with providers, as well as licensing
in a jurisdiction to pay for telecommunications, satellites, radio, and television services, and some of this, when you are working with cuban providers, it is the cuban government. that is who is providing it, said the desire to improve those types of linkages -- at the same time, the u.s. or to try to facilitate independent society in cuba, providing technological advice along that line, as well, and i think those two goals, the cuban government and the cuban society, are going to be increasingly difficult to carry out simultaneously, and i come back to te'd's paraphrasing, his framework, in the process of trying to facilitate down loading development come down and democracy, or downloading destabilization, and those are the questions, i think, that are
very much on the minds of many cubans as they try to understand their role and the technology. so with that comment, we'd like to open it up to questions. if you could please, just stand up. >> my main question is for the gentleman from the committee for journalism. you spoke of the legal regulatory framework for online activities. yet, still, the penal code does not mention anything regarding online activities. do you see in your monitoring efforts or analysis, do you see a move in the short to medium term of the cuban government to modify the penal code to include sanctions, an attempt to criminalize, specifically, online activities, such as the one that the bloggers are doing?
>> good question. i am not sure about that. i do not think they need the penal code to criminalize bloggers' activity. they have a handful of restrictive laws in place already, and as ted was mentioning, one month ago, sanchez and a few other borger's -- borders -- bloggers were on their way to a peaceful march, and they were forced into a car biplane closed agents. they were beaten. look at into a car by plainclothes agents in terms of
going after dissidents and gain a lot of exposure internationally, and we have not seen yet with raul castro, you know, the widespread crackdown on dissidents and journalists that was seen before with his brother. but taking into account what happened before when the movement of independent journalists flourished. they got a lot of recognition by polishing their stories, mainly on the u.s. and europe. this, i think, does not preclude the fact that a major crackdown may happen. in the future.
>> the other thing, under cuban law, there is this a catch phrase. in a certain sense, that is so broadly defined that even online activities are not specifically forbidden. depending on what one writes, it could fall under that phrase, and there could be some penalties. >> i am an author and about blogging. as we have heard, cell phone video has been important. not just in cuba but throughout latin america. becoming a way to publish an re- the internet in many ways, more than just personal-computer. the twitter atmosphere is really important. how is their access to cell
phones? how does the cuban government restrict it? in handing out cell phones and keeping cell phones may be a lot easier than keeping internet connections over time. >> let me refer you to a blog by a man who has a number of posts of very recent that deal with a lot of these kinds of technological questions and issues and also addresses some of the u.s. contracting and advisers who are advising the u.s. government on how to provide this type of connectivity globally to cuban's, independently of the government. the answer to your question is yes, but with lots of caveats. absence makes the heart grow fonder, and i think the fact that a lot of young cubans are missing this technology does not make them ignorant. it makes them more inventive.
i have a problem with my blackberry, and i do not know what to do. just like they can make a car run for 50 years, they can really rig up all kinds of technological things, especially the young ones. remember, sanchez is only 34 years old. like davy crockett and killed a person at a young age, she built her own computer from scratch in the early 1990's, during the worst part of the special period, so they know what they are doing. they have cell phones. they have twitter accounts. when she was rounded up, and author was tweaking the entire time. -- tweeting the entire time with half understandable messages, because she was also being put into the car. and they were telling her to turn off her cell phone, because
they did not know what she was doing. a lot of them have twitter accounts now, and although the twitter accounts, they cannot use them like we do. as far as we know, yoani, she does not actually send a tweet and it appears on twitter. it's they have to put it on. there is somebody who actually -- they have to put it on. somebody spends their time doing that. so this network around the world of solidarity, people working with them to help them translate and post things, that is really important. now, there are nine blogs in english with the blog that she is associated with. >> yes, i would say that cost is still an issue. i was talking to a few prominent
dissidents last week, and they were telling me that it is still costly for the average cuban and when the government opened up the consumer sale of cell phones, for example, they were charging $160 to register for a plan. that is a lot of money for cubans. and they also talked about charging for incoming calls. when you call them, they look at the caller id, and then they call you right away or send you an email because the cost is still an issue. so i think that is still limiting the use of electronic devices in cuba. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. a fascinating discussion.
one of the things that signaled the imminent downfall of the soviet bloc is that the soviet government began to lose its will to crack down. and i wonder whether the cuban government is losing its will to crack down. you mentioned that the asians, who put these people in the car and beat them, said, "turn off your cell phones." "what are you doing? ?" why did they not just take them away? why do they not arrest these bloggers and put them in jail? -- "what are you doing?" >> hola. i do not think so. i think that it has the will to
keep the political control that it wants. there might be members of the people who are members of the oprah said apparatus that are questioning these things, but i think it is more a matter of having a different approach, raul trying to preserve the system but make changes that will allow the system a little bit more space, a little bit more oxygen, mainly in the economic sphere. i think the only reason these people have not been thrown into jail is that they be to the government to the punch, meaning that the government was not aware of these until they had already become famous -- they beat the government to the punch. particularly yoani's blog. i occasionally talk to cuban
diplomats in new york, and they say, "when she won that "time" magazine thing, i had to look her up to 5 per -- find out who she was." i think that they were caught off guard by it, and yoani says "being known is a protective shield," and the fact that she was able to become known so quickly -- i agree. the prizes she won -- the government will have to pay a big price. she is also a much more sympathetic figure globally, and i think people can relate to bring in a different way than the independent journalists. she is young. she is a woman. she writes is very pithy, which
he -- witty blog posts, so that would be my understanding as to why they are not in jail. >> i totally agree with what ted said. why they have not massive crackdown yet. i agree -- massively cracked down yet. one of the issues here is that most cubans do not read these blogs. they do not have internet access, so the work of these independent bloggers is basically internationally. knowing before the independent press, they are not so worried
up to now because the cubans have access to these blogs ha high. they are not internet tech savvy or internet users, most of them. this is generational. so this is another consideration, and at the same time, these bloggers are different from the dissident movement of the 1990's and independent journalists are not
so politically motivated. except a few blocks, the comments are not confrontational. -- except for a few blogs. they do not criticize the government partially, but they examine issues that cubans face daily, although they are not confrontational, so this may be another aspect of the issue. as i said before, taking into account what happened with the independent press, you know, as they gain more notoriety, the government decided in 2003 that it was enough, and they launched a massive crackdown. i do not think that these can be precluded, and we may see in the
future unfortunately some of these blopggers -- bloggers sent to jail. >> if there is any one big political lesson that we can take away from internal cuban politics in 2009 is that the old guard is still on top. raul castro is running the country in his late seventies, and another prominent man is one year older than raul. you have the dismissal of some, and so i think there is clearly a massive generational gap between the cuban leadership and this new generation that is coming up, and there is a technological gap, as well. that being said, i think the cuban government has learned things rather quickly.
just one example, fidel castro is frequently quoted by the international press, by making statements on various issues, both domestic and international, and these statements are primarily made through his columns and printed on line, so when you read in the press that "fidel castro says this" or "fidel castro says that," that is mainly from his writings. so the cuban government i think has come to this game a little late, but they are a player in the game, and they are learning quickly. two people have been very patient, and i want to get their questions and. >> i am from a press agency, and i was working -- i totally agree
with you, and he writes, not only in cuba, but i would not underestimate the spread. i think on the one hand, the sign was that her husband had something new, and i think it is worrisome. instead of being shut down, there are blocking them. with the internet access, they cannot get the access to the table, and i think that is a reason.
on the other hand, recently, they were trying to get access in the hotels. they cannot afford $5 per hour dating $20 per month. -- gaining $20 per month. >> mary. i just wondered if you could, a little bit on -- i say uva raised a very interesting point about the now ever increasing contacts between the diasporas and the islands, and now we actually have -- and the island. you mentioned the only 13%, carlos, access to the internet.
my impression is even if there is only that small, direct access, it is incredibly widespread via email. people passkeys around. they sure them widely. they can sell them. it is my impression again, at least in the urban areas, it is far wider than this, and that may be why you are beginning to see this. as long as the blogers are an elite, the cuban government has always allowed the intellectual elite some freedom. if this is beginning to spread to the wider public, and i believe that it is, that is when you begin to see a crack down most likely, so i was wondering if you could comment on the diasporas's role. my impression, if you agree with
my impression on that? >> i want to be quick so everyone can get a chance. let me just address that. i have heard from cuban diplomats and others that we were content to ignore these as long as they stayed on line. then we can block them from cuba and consumption, and besides blocked are filtered, is the word probably better, because sometimes you can access them, but sometimes you cannot. they have increasingly been more provocative, more confrontational. you can even say that they are starting to act like citizens, and they are taking this complaint to the street. the thing you mentioned about renaldo, he said he wanted to have a verbal dual with the man
who beat up his wife, and he said to meet him at 5:00. "i do not believe in violence, but i want to meet with you and understand it," and, of course, it was met with violence. being stupid and doing things in the street, right, doing things in public, and they have done that over the past year, 1.5 years, increasingly confronting people at an event, asking questions. being involved there is going to be a reaction, and i think that that is a transition from a virtual to a public platform. going to a public voice. i think of martin luther king. they always criticized him for making things uncomfortable, for causing a ruckus, for causing conflict, but he was trying to
expose an unjust situation, and so, they blame yoani, but she is only demanding he writes that she thinks the citizens should have. in terms of the issues with the family, i think that is hugely important. feedback, right? there is a feedback. my wife is cuban, and she is in contact with her family and friends in cuba via email, periodically, but constantly over time, and she can read something and send it to them or tell them about it. she is glad to go in january. she tries to avoid politics with her parents, but it will come up, so i think there is this feedback that happens, and even if there is not so much feedback, these conditions are really important, because it destroys the myth that they are
all members of a mafia that want to kill us. helping to stabilize. >> briefly, the work of these bloggerzs cannot be underestimated. they have had an impact abroad, and they are having an impact in cuba. they have become more confrontational as they have become more outspoken. they have faced several restrictions. they have been denied visas to travel abroad, the most famous incident in which yoani was in daylight on the streets of havana, as i said before, this is something that we take very seriously, and we are concerned
that the future can bring more harassment of these bloggers as they become more outspoken. >> great. thank you very much, ted, carlos, and uva. i would be remiss to not mention that this week, there was a twitter account launch, you can follow us on twitter. thank you very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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